JUST IN: Phoenix Suns Man is reportedly running out of time to prove he deserves minutes for the Suns

Josh Okogie is running out of time to prove he deserves minutes for the Suns.

Under The Radar: Josh Okogie's hustle is nonstop | NBA.com

Few players have faced the ups and downs that Josh Okogie has over the previous two seasons with the Phoenix Suns. He has had one of the most variable roles on the club, which is directly related to his own play.

Okogie is perhaps the Suns’ best defender and unquestionably their finest hustle player, which has earned him a lot of playing time.

Those strengths were on full display last regular season when he started most of the Suns’ second half games.

His versatility in defending several spots while also providing much-needed energy made him a vital element of the Suns’ rotation.

However, his inconsistencies on offense, particularly from three, have prevented him from becoming a genuinely outstanding player. Those weaknesses have sometimes fully eclipsed his defensive output, as in last year’s playoffs.

After shooting a respectable 33% from deep during the regular season, Okogie only made two of his 14 playoff attempts. His minutes dropped dramatically as the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets entirely disregarded him on offense while swarming the rest of the Suns.

That theme has carried over into this season, as teams defend Okogie in the same fashion, allowing his playing time to fluctuate depending on how well he performs on offense. He appears to have lost all trust in his shot, as his 3-point percentage is presently 29%, and he frequently misses wide open opportunities.

His offensive struggles this season have extended beyond his deep shots. Recently, especially in games where Bradley Beal is out, Okogie has been used as a release valve in the middle of the paint when Kevin Durant and Devin Booker are double teamed.

It’s a sensible move to get him out of the corner and address the Suns’ spacing, but he’s had trouble making the next play in those situations. To be fair to Okogie, this is not a problem unique to him; many of the Suns’ role players struggle with that particular play. But, unlike those other players, Okogie isn’t making up ground elsewhere on offense.

Despite these concerns, there was still hope that playing Okogie alongside the Suns’ newly established “Big 3” would mitigate his flaws and allow them to reap the benefits of having him on the court. The Suns’ guard rotation is rather weak defensively, so Okogie could potentially bring a lot of value and balance by filling in for Grayson Allen or Eric Gordon when the Suns need stops.

Unfortunately, that has not materialized. The Okogie-Beal-Booker-Durant quartet has a -6.6 net rating in 21 minutes together. In contrast, the three-man trio of Beal, Booker, and Durant had a net rating of 12.7 this season. Okogie’s offense is a significant problem that drags down an otherwise great trio.

It’s a small sample size, but Okogie may be running out of time to fix it. Beal will return soon, leaving one rotation slot available. Royce O’Neale has already secured another in quick succession.

It’s pointless to try to figure out how to make Okogie lineups work when there are better alternatives available. Frank Vogel appeared to reach that conclusion when he chose Saben Lee over Okogie in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Lakers.

That may be a one-game tweak, or it could mark the end of Okogie’s opportunity to play important minutes.

With the postseason just a month and a half away, Frank Vogel will begin to fine-tune his playoff rotation. If Okogie can recapture his confidence and form from last season, he may be a contender. Right now, it appears that he has ran out of time.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.